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The route from Forres to Elgin on the north side of the A96 is 15.6 miles in length and has climbing of 715 feet. It has been given a difficulty rating of 5
Forres is a good sized town situated on the floodplain of the River Findhorn. It was first mentioned in Roman documents from the 2nd century, and received royal burgh status in 1140. It has won Scotland in Bloom on several occasions and the town features in Shakespeare’s play Macbeth. Brodie Castle and gardens lie a few miles to the west – the original building (other than one tower) was destroyed by fire in 1645 and is an example of a Z-plan castle. It was home to the Clan Brodie before being taken over by the National Trust for Scotland. Your start point is beside Nelson Tower, which was built in 1806 to commemorate Nelson’s victory at the Battle of Trafalgar.
Starting in the town centre, you head north out of Forres, crossing the A96 via a bridge at mile 0.6. The first 12.2 miles are on basically flat roads with the occasional spike. The only real challenge of the day arrives at the edge of Elgin with a nasty double ascent lasting 2.1 miles, reaching the high point of 246 feet at mile 14.3. There is then a sharp decent, crossing the River Lossie at mile 15 and cycling through the grounds of the cathedral to finish in the town centre.
This is a pretty route through a mainly agricultural landscape. You follow route 1 of the National Cycle Network, and pass Sueno’s Stone after 0.7 miles, a 20 foot tall carved Pictish monument which is enclosed in armoured glass to protect it. You pass through Kinloss after 3.2 miles which is home to thousands of military personnel. Kinloss sits on Findhorn Bay and you can see the ruins of a Cisterian Abbey that was built in 1150 by King David.
Elgin is a large town and could easily be a base for a holiday. It is the administrative and commercial centre of Moray and the town was first recorded in charter in 1151. The town’s economy is dependant on tourism and whisky, as well as the RAF and army which have bases in nearby Lossiemouth and Kinloss respectively. The ruins of the medieval cathedral are well worth a visit. Originally built in 1242, it was completely destroyed by fire in 1270. The wonderful Dr Gray’s hospital was built in 1819 and is a superb example of early 19th century architecture. If you have time you could visit Birnie Kirk (built in 1140) a few miles south of the town, or Pluscarden Abbey to the southwest which was built in 1230. We would recommend a visit to Glen Moray distillery in Elgin, which has long been a friend to Ride the North. There are numerous options for food and drink in the town.
By clicking on the ‘play’ symbol on the graphic below you can see route map. The elevation profile of the ride can be seen via the Hills tab with files for use with a GPS device also available for download. If you take any photos of the route that you’d like to share, please submit to firstname.lastname@example.org